Hello everyone! I’m back after a busy couple of weeks both at work and in personal life. But I have two weeks of vacation coming up, so I’m hoping to get it several more blog posts about my England trip. Today I’m taking you to the Lake District – one of my most anticipated destinations! We got in to the Lake District late the night before, enjoyed a wonderful night and hearty breakfast, and then we were off for our first day tour in the area! The day dawned grey and rainy and pretty much stayed that way the whole time. However, the glory of the Lake District is that it is intoxicatingly beautiful regardless of the weather.
We had a delightful guide named Gerry who gave us all sorts of information about the Lake District as we drove through the beautiful countryside. Most of the Lake District is a Heritage site, meaning that it is protected by the government and there are strict regulations about building and land use to preserve the integrity of the area and traditional way of life.
We stopped briefly at Ullswater Lake for a quick stretch and photos.
Note the teasing flash of sunlight here – that’s about all we saw of the sun this day. But the clouds and fog made for some spectacular views in an of themselves. Then we were ushered back on the bus and we drove to Castlerigg – in Underskiddaw, Keswick. (Aren’t those fascinating names?!)
Here we admired the Castlerigg Stone Circle, which dates to at least 4000 years. It was our guide’s opinion that this stone circle was much more preferable than Stonehenge because it wasn’t as touristy and crowded. On that point, I had to agree with him. We were able to walk all around the stones and it was just our group and a bunch of sheep. The heavy fog and misty rain lent an air of mystery and otherworldliness to the experience and it did feel as if we had gone back in time.
All to soon we were ushered back on the bus to get to our next stop – at Windermere Lake. We were delightfully surprised to find that we were going to ride a ferry around the lake! This wasn’t mentioned on the tour itinerary and I was really excited about the opportunity to be out on the lake.
Our ferry was the larger one moored to the ramp. Mom and I secured a seat inside the covered area as it was quite chilly and damp outside. And from the inside we could better enjoy the views without the wind and rain blowing in our faces. The ferry ride took 40 min and while we were on the lake, I pulled out my knitting project for a few rows.
This was a very special moment for me. You know that I like to imprint my knitting project with the places I visit, and this particular shawl was part of the Shawl Society, with a theme of a happy place near the shore. At the beginning of the pattern release we were invited to share our happy spots and memories of being near water. I shared that I was looking forward to a trip to the Lake District in the summer and so it seemed perfect that I should knit on this shawl while on the water of Windermere. It hereafter became dubbed “The Lake District Shawl”
We saw lovely scenery along the banks of the lake and the trees were dripping with mist and fog – it was so ethereal. It was at this point that Mom and I vowed we would return and do some hiking in the Lake District area so we could better appreciate the beauty of this place.
Then we drove to Keswick for lunch. At this point it was raining rather heavily, and being warned by our guide not to eat at a sit-down restaurant, Mom and I voted on fish and chips from this little shop. We stood inside to eat it and it was the best fish and chips we had on the trip! Yum! I can still taste it – piping hot and we ate it with our fingers and tried to stay warm.
The scenery as we drove along was spectacular. I was charmed by the little rivulets and waterfalls that flowed from the higher peaks. One of our afternoon stops was to the Honister Slate Mine.
Our guide told us that all of the historic buildings and the stone walls were made of slate mined in the Lake District. Now because of regulations and price, newer buildings import slate from other regions, especially China, which is matched as much as possible. At the mine, we were able to visit their processing factory where they cut the slate and fashioned it into various objects and signs, which were for sale in the shop. It was neat to watch them cutting the slate pieces. Our guide told us not to buy any pieces from the shop because it would be heavy and “you wouldn’t want to lug that around on the rest of your holiday”. However, mom and I did purchase some of these wooden mushrooms and we picked up some smaller slate pieces outside.
I liked this photo because it shows off the beauty of the slate. Our next and final longer stop was in the village of Grasmere. I must confess to being in love with this village.
For starters, there was this charming Gingerbread Shoppe. Grasmere is famous for its unique gingerbread, so of course we needed to stop and get some. Additionally, this is also the village where the famed poet William Wordsworth lived. The residents have planted a lovely garden in honor of him, right near the Gingerbread Shoppe. We wondered around for a bit and, shockingly, found ourselves near the village church.
I was trembling with excitement about the beautiful old cemetery covered in large trees and was wondering to myself if they might be yew trees. One of the bucket list items I had wanted to see on our England trip was an old cemetery with yew trees. As if on queue, our guide turned the corner, came up to us, and said “now these are yew trees that Wordsworth planted to make the church’s cemetery look more inviting” Score! Wordsworth attended this church and he and his family are buried here. Our guide asked if we’d like to see inside the church and we eagerly agreed. He gave us a private tour of St. Oswald’s Church.
And he even let us through the barrier to get a closer look at the organ.
It was a really special experience and one of the highlights of the day. As we left, we got some lovely views of the lake there.
After dinner, we returned to our hotel for hot showers – it had been a very cold and wet day, but full of beauty and delight in this special part of the world. Our hotel – Southview- was itself a treasure, tucked up in a neighborhood not far from the train station and absolutely beautiful. We had a spacious room with a view overlooking a garden courtyard.
Warmed and dry, we settled into our room, turned on the BBC documentary channel, and had Grasmere gingerbread and hot chocolate.
It was the perfect ending to a magical day and we went to sleep excited about the adventures of tomorrow.
Blessings to you,